Deep Vein Thrombosis (also known as DVT, or blood clot in the leg) is a very common disease that starts off with minor symptoms but can lead to life-threatening results. Statistics have shown that over 600,000 American’s are diagnosed with DVT each year.
If this seemingly mild problem is left undiagnosed, it can lead to a deadly condition called pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism happens when the blood clots in your leg reach your lung. The condition is responsible for a shocking 15% of sudden deaths in the U.S. each year.
Many believed that only old people are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, however, recent history has shown that the disease can victimize even the young and middle-aged people. It is very important for the public to have basic knowledge of DVT and should know how to decrease their chances of developing DVT. Listed below are 10 ways you can avoid DVT.
1. Be Aware of Your Family History
A number of researchers have concluded that a higher number of close family members affected by deep vein thrombosis results in a higher chance of you developing the disease. Having more than two siblings who are affected by deep vein thrombosis immensely increases your chances of developing DVT.
Renowned researcher Dr. Brengt Zöller stated that having a family history strongly associated with deep vein thrombosis, your doctor will have to be careful when prescribing hormones or might prescribe a longer course of anticlotting drugs following surgery.
With all of that in mind, the first step in preventing DVT would be to know your family history. Asking your parents about their parents’ life isn’t very hard and it will help you make up your expectations. Doing so will help you determine whether you should take extensive steps to steer clear off DVT as well as help other family members be aware of the danger.
2. Lose Some Weight
While being obese is a big no-no in the fight against DVT but excessive weight can also affect your chances of developing the condition. Obesity affects the chemical structure of your blood, opening doorways to inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, makes it much likelier for your blood to clot.
Excessive fat around your belly can also make it hard for the blood to travel through the deep veins, ultimately increasing the chances of clotting.
Men over six feet and women over five-foot-six are especially prone to developing a clot. The taller you are, the higher the blood has to climb when traveling upward from your legs. Since gravity has an effect on the upward flow of the blood, it ends up clotting in the legs. So, extra efforts on losing excess weight if you are six feet or taller male or a five-foot-six or taller female.
3. Exercise More
It isn’t very unusual for people to be lazy in today’s world. Unfortunately, along with a number of other threats, not moving often can lead to DVT too. Being idle for long intervals of time disturbs your blood flow, increasing the likeliness of a clot occurring in the leg.
Simply walking around more often can help your chances of preventing a blood clot. Or another very easy technique is to raise and lower your heels, even while you’re sitting, this little exercise can get the job done. Both of these activities make your calf muscles work, which squeezes the deep veins and pushes the blood upward.
Immobility is such a huge threat to your health that physicians consider long flights a significant factor in developing blood clots, especially if your physical or genetic background makes you prone to DVT already. The ACCP highly recommends getting up at least once every hour and stretch your legs.
4. Eat Omega 3 Fatty Acids
No, Omega 3 fatty acids aren’t some super-secret chemicals that can miraculously prevent DVT. Omega 3 fatty acids are found primarily in fish and are credited to decrease your cholesterol levels along with decreasing the chances of your blood clotting in the legs.
A large-scale study conducted in 2014 in Sweden showed that the people who ate less or no fish and supplemented little or no fish oil at all had a 48% higher chance of developing deep vein thrombosis than the people who ate fish three or more time a week and took fish oil capsules.
Fish like salmon, lake trout, tuna, mackerel, and anchovies are healthy for you and you should include fish in your diet two to three times a week. Of course, many fish are also linked to a number of other health benefits which makes eating fish even more rewarding.
5. Hospitals Also Play A Role
Statistics show that about sixty percent of DVT victims are the people who were recently hospitalized for either surgery, trauma, or illness. A lot of factors that increase the risk of DVT are linked to hospitalization too.
In the case of surgery, the commonly used anesthesia widens the veins for some time, allowing the blood to pool and clot. Trauma counts as one of the conditions that damage veins, ultimately disturbing the blood flow and causing it to clot. General illness also plays a role in the scenario as they are responsible for prolonged bed rests.
Making your doctor aware of your elevated risk of DVT and your family history is your responsibility as much as it is the doctor’s to ask for it. Letting the doctor know of your risk of DVT unlocks the gateway to special treatment that will ensure that you aren’t developing DVT during your stay at the hospital.
6. Review your medicines
Some chemical ingredients in your medicines can also be a significant factor in increasing your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. The vaginal device NuvaRing and succeeding birth control pills containing drospirenone and medication containing estrogen are feared to increase risk.
In young Australian women, the rising pulmonary embolism deaths are being suspected to be the result of newer-generation birth control pills. Doctors might recommend nonhormonal contraception solutions like a copper IUD (Intrauterine Device) or a barrier method.
The FDA announced in June 2014 that all prescriptions of testosterone products must carry a warning that they may increase the risk of DVT. Steroids like prednisone are also known to increase DVT risk, especially in high doses.
Sometimes, medicine is just necessary for your better health, but if that medicine is playing a role in increasing your risk of DVT, then you should consult a doctor and share your concerns.
7. DVT During Pregnancy
While the risk of DVT during pregnancy isn’t alarmingly higher, but it is established that at any stage of pregnancy and about 6-8 weeks after birth, a woman is more prone to DVT than a non-pregnant woman of the same age.
Pregnant women are usually treated by injections of a drug that is responsible for stopping the growth of the blood clot which allows the body to dissolve it. This drug is called heparin and it doesn’t affect the developing baby.
It is very important to stay vigilant during pregnancy as there are two lives at stake during that time. In addition to being on a lookout for symptoms of DVT, a pregnant woman should also try to be as active as possible. Consult your midwife or your doctor on this matter.
Also, you should avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy which may increase the risk of developing DVT along with other threats.
8. Long-Distance Travel And DVT
Traveling in either a plane, bus, or car for over 4 hours increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis due to immobility. There are some essential steps that you can take to keep the risk factor of developing a DVT low. Most of these steps suggest that you should move around more often during long haul travel.
For starters, don’t push yourself when it comes to dehydration, drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. You can also simply get up if you are on a plane or a train and walk around a little to optimize the blood flow in your legs. As for cars, you can perform leg exercises like raising and lowering your feet or rotating your ankle.
Refueling stops are excellent chances for you to get out of the car and walk around. The fresh air will do you good, and walking around will improve your blood flow.
9. Wear Compression Stockings
If you are aware of your elevated risk of developing DVT or even if you have developed deep vein thrombosis, compression stockings may be of help to you. Of course, if you developed DVT, consulting a doctor should be your first priority.
Compression stockings, also known as graduation compression stockings, are tight at the feet and ankle and gradually get looser as they move upwards on the leg. Compression stockings are twice as thick as regular pantyhose and cover your leg from the arch of the foot to the knee.
The way they work is that the blood is easily propelled upwards from your feet as they are tight in that area, the gradual loosening of the stocking helps the blood move uphill. These stockings are recommended to help relieve the swelling and pain if you have developed DVT. They may also reduce the risk of you developing DVT.
10. Prefer patch against hormone pills
The medical community is undecided at this time on whether patches have a higher chance of contributing to DVT or are hormone pills more dangerous. The problem here is that a lot of the researchers that were conducted until 2012 showed that patches are more dangerous than pills.
However, since that time, new generations of birth control pills have been introduced to the market. These new-generation pills are being highly suspected of increasing the risk of DVT in women. But not a lot of researchers have compared the risk factors of patches against the newer-generation pills.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that physicians consider prescribing a patch rather than a pill for menopausal women as their hormone replacement therapy. It seems that delivering hormones through skin doesn’t affect the risk factor of blood clots while a pill raises the risk significantly.